Friday, April 18, 2014

love lifted me

"All we like sheep have gone astray
We've turned, every one, to his own way
And God laid all of our iniquity on Him.

Like a lamb they led Him out
Yet, He opened not His mouth
And His precious blood poured out
An offering for sin.

He was wounded for our transgressions
He was bruised for our iniquity

All of our punishment was upon Him
And by His stripes we are healed.
He has no beauty or majesty
Clothed in lowly humanity
And though we saw Him we could not see
The glory of His grace.

But every law was satisfied
The moment He laid down His life
The power of Death was destroyed
The price was paid.

He was wounded for our transgressions
He was bruised for our iniquity

All of our punishment was upon Him
And by His stripes
I am so easily distracted.  Whether by projects, media, life-craziness... I tragically find myself placing the cross of Christ on some back-burner or lost corner of thought.  This day is half over and I have as yet to be still and rejoice in His love for me.  Whilst I am wrapped up in plans for the future, struggles of the day, somehow the sacrifice that gives me the ability to have any future except absolute separation from God is an afterthought- a fleeting "Oh, yes, we will make it to the Good Friday service". 
And I think now how deep His love is for me... that He can intercede for me before the throne of God as I wonder if my outfit for church tonight is flattering enough on me.
Oh Lord... I will never deserve You.
Thank You... Thank You for the cross.
I am a prime example of Christ's unconditional love.  And how beautiful it is that as my heart becomes heavy with my own selfishness, my own sin... His grace comes rushing in again and I am lifted.
Yes, I am lifted and freed!
God bless, my friends.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Right Where I Am {Series}... Natalie

The final guest post in this series is written by my sweet sister, Natalie.  She is one of the most thoughtful and caring people I know.  Her sensitivity to the hearts of others and strong desire to do whatever the Lord asks of her is an amazing example to me.  I hope you will be blessed as she shares!
Q:  Would you please share some basic facts about yourself; first name, age (only if desired), a few loves/hobbies, etc…
A:  Natalie, 16, I love to read, sing, draw, and make up things in my head.... :-)... and taking walks! I love taking walks, especially in the rain.  ;-)
Q:  What is your current role/occupation? 
A:  I'm currently a stay-at-home-daughter (presently the second oldest in the house), a sophomore in high school, homeschooled, and a singer on my church's worship team
Q:  Did you choose this way of life?  If so, why?
A:  I didn't really have a say in what family I was born into... but I have made the choice to stay in it. My parents decided I would be homeschooled before I even knew what that meant... and I wouldn't change a thing.  :-)  If given the choice I'd still be homeschooled.
Q:  There are many misconceptions about women who stay at home instead of going to college/having a career.  What would you say in response to someone who criticized or was confused by your choices?
A:  I believe many people misunderstand what it means to "stay-at-home". I have never seen going to college as something that was necessarily part of my future and most people sadly don't get that.... now, I'm not saying college is bad, I'm saying it's not for everyone! People should have the choice to go, not be forced (by parents or peer pressure). My parents never said college was an evil or forbidden place, I was the one who is making the choice not to go.
Q:  Do you see opportunities to use the gifts God has given you right where you are?  Or are you “wasting your talents and wasting away” as many would believe?
A:  I try to use the talents God has given me in any and every way possible. We live in a small town and it can seem sometimes that there aren't many options, but I try to see the opportunities that are there. If for nobody else I hope my God and my family have been blessed in some way through me.
Q:  Many girls go to college for an education.  And many go to meet more men (I’m not making this up… I’ve had it said to me by girls with those intentions).  And many couples meet during the college years.  Since you are taking a different approach, how on earth will you ever find a spouse?  *sarcasm note*
A:  If you want to further your education, by all means go to college if you wish... but really ladies.... going to college just to meet someone, I think is the silliest and most shallow reason to go. I'm not going to go searching for a husband instead of trusting that God loves me and wants what's best for me, and that if marriage is in my future, God has already picked the right one for me.. I think I'll leave it in His hands.
Q:  What kind of body image do you have?  Have you ever struggled with confidence or thinking you are beautiful?  If yes, then why?  If/when negative thoughts attack you, have you found something that helps you see your worth?
A:  I am very self-conscious about my body, and have struggled at times to even think I'm beautiful... the world sends out so many mixed messages about how we as women should look... and it's so easy to buy into them. From the perspective of many (I know because of the constant comments...) I'm very thin. Most people probably think thin people are happy all the time.  Not true! Ok... so my brain goes "is being this thin a bad thing?", "am I skinny or am I slender?", "do people think they might break me?", "is skinny beautiful?"... all these questions... and usually they are all at once. Sometimes I would wish I could be more (without, I hope, getting too personal) "filled-out" in some places, or that people would stop constantly telling me how thin I am, ALL THE TIME.  As if I didn't notice or something.  And those thoughts were wrong.  And what I have had to come to grips with is that I am who I am and I can't change it. I know that might sound a bit cheesy, but it's true.... and you know what?.... God wouldn't change me. He is the One who made me and loves me, so why am I so worried about what the world might think? The Creator of the universe thinks I'm beautiful!  And ,though I still struggle at times, that's enough for me.
Q:  What do you hope to accomplish in your future as you pursue God’s will for your life? 
A:  I hope that my life in some small way can bring Him glory and that He would use me at our church's Winter Retreat, in my own church and Youth Group, at summer camp this summer, and  even while shopping at Walmart... I hope to go on a mission trip sometime in the not-too-distant-future and to serve God in that way. I hope to be a shining light for Him wherever I go.
Q:  If you could share anything you’ve learned in your life with the ladies reading this blog, what would it be?
A:  I've learned that the love that my God has for me is so incredibly beyond anything I could even say or imagine.... That I can have peace in Him and not worry (which honestly I do a lot) and that I mess up a lot! But He will always be there for me.
I've learned how important family is, which is something that the world seems to have forgotten.... and that even though I feel that life isn't "fair" sometimes, I am truly blessed and loved.

Monday, April 14, 2014

just bloom... outfit post

Black Floral Blouse ~ Meijer
Blue Jeans ~ Meijer
Black Undershirt ~ Walmart
Black Flipflops ~ Walmart
Pearl Earrings ~ Walmart
Sunday afternoon was gorgeous: slightly overcast (perfect for pictures!), drizzled light rain every so often, and blew a pleasant breeze.  Though I do love sunshine, this type of day is just about perfect in my humble opinion!

After church (and after unloading a bunch of Andrew's and my stuff that we'd brought from our apartment into the family poll barn) all ten of us went out for lunch together (I could probably eat a chicken wrap every day from the restaurant we visited).  A small group of us walked home and, with the weather now turning cold again with a weather forecast of snow flurries, I'm so glad we took the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

My hairstyle for Sunday was a small, subtle waterfall braid on one side with the rest of my hair down.  My hair got a little wild during our time outside, but Natalie managed to get a decent picture of it between gusts.  :-)

My blouse is a recent Meijer find!  It is rare that I find a blouse that I wouldn't chance anything about... and this shirt is one of those few!  The flowy sleeves, the delicate pink flowers, how it fits... *happy sigh*  I love it!

I kept accessories to a minimum... I wanted this outfit to be simple and classic.  So what is better for that look than pearl earrings?

Since we took these pictures at the town park, I HAD to spend some time on the swings and slides!  ;-)  I love swings!  I love feeling like I can fly...  it is so liberating and it's very hard to be unhappy when you're gliding through the air!

I read a quote the other day that blessed my heart as a woman so much...
"A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it.
It just blooms."
So this week, I encourage you ladies to just bloom!  Just like a rose and a violet are different yet both still so lovely, each of you is created to bloom into a unique, beautiful woman.  After all, isn't it our differences that make us beautiful???  Instead of comparing ourselves to others or wanting what others have, why not rejoice in our own beauty so we can then truly love and appreciate the beauty of others?